On Saturday, while Billy and Rob went sailing, Jilly Bean and I partook of a much more local activity (though about as imported as sailing in this most landlocked of states): The Sand in the City Festival. Festival planners collect mountains of sand (200 tons to be exact), dump them along Iowa Avenue, and thirteen teams of local businesses and community groups collaborate with architects to sculpt fantastical, complexical pieces of sand art.
Festival goers are meant to purchase “sand dollars” (get it?) at one buck a pop and vote for their favorite, but I didn’t see any sand dollar/American dollar exchange booth along the streets. Not sure if I’m unobservant, or if these Midwesterns didn’t want to ostentatiously showcase the money aspect. The profits (secret or not) return to the Summer of Arts, which is the lovely umbrella for a jazz festival, Friday night concert series, and cluster of movie screenings (most of which we came too late for).
If I had found the exchange bureau, and if I had gotten any sand dollars, I would have cast my vote for this mystifying walrus-and-wheelchair-man sculpture, by the Dance Marathon team. There was a bundle of green balloons threaded through a hole in the man’s arm, bobbing along in his grip. A spot of whimsy, in the spirit of Le Ballon Rouge. (And speaking of Francophilia, isn’t Sand in the City quite similar to Paris Plages, when the Parisian government lines the Seine banks with Atlantic sand for several late summer weeks?)
What I want to know is, where does all this sand come from? The banks of Lake Michigan? The Atlantic Coast? I can’t find the answer, and if someone has any intelligence on this matter please sate my curiosity post haste.
Kiddies playing in the Iowa City sand is not something you see everyday, though it’s not as if that stopped them. Jungle gym instantly forgotten in the face of a borderless sand box, poured right into the intersection. Total wish fulfillment.
Sand in the City was paired with a good ole street festival — food vendors and ice cream carts galore, and not even along the Ped Mall. It was just like those New Yorky festivals that close University Street to sell art along the park, Mexican corn on the cob, crepes, and knit sweaters. Not exactly Greenwich Village, but close enough for now.